Timber Industry Withdraws Appeal, Sierra Club Victory for the Sequoias Stands Strong
June 12, 2008
June 10, 2008 was the day the Sierra Club was scheduled to defend the world’s largest trees - the giant sequoias - in the 9th Circuit federal appeals court. However, at the 11th hour, the timber industry withdrew their appeal, marking a critical victory in the fight against the Bush Administration's widely discredited strategy of boosting logging under the guise of preventing forest fires.
The last groves of giant sequoias lie scattered amidst the conifer forests on the western slopes of the southern Sierra Nevada mountains. At the end of his term, President Clinton established the Giant Sequoia National Monument to provide lasting protection to these cathedrals of nature. The Bush Administration, however, chose to propose logging in the Monument - under the familiar pretext of "fire prevention," even while the timber sales removed larger, fire-resistant trees. The Sierra Club challenged several individual logging projects and the Bush Administration's "Management Plan" for the Giant Sequoia Monument, in a critical test of the Administration's logging strategy.
The Sierra Club won in the trial court in 2006, but the timber industry appealed the decision. By choosing to withdraw their appeal, even the timber industry seems to be implicitly acknowledging that the Sierra Club’s efforts have brought the Bush Administration’s destructive pro-logging regime to a halt.
August 22, 2006
In a huge victory for the Giant Sequoia National Monument, the Sierra Club won two court orders today declaring the Bush administration's management plan for the Monument "incomprehensible" and halting all logging ongoing within the Monument. Judge Breyer found that "the Forest Service's interest in harvesting timber has trampled the applicable environmental laws." Giant Sequoia National Monument boasts more than half of all the Sequoia redwoods in the world, with most of the remainder found in the adjacent National Park. The popularity and awe-inspiring beauty of the Sequoia forest and its wildlife led President Bill Clinton permanently protect the forest as a National Monument under the Antiquities Act. Today's critical legal victory is a huge step in the Club's efforts to promote the transfer of Monument management into the National Park Service and away from the logging-friendly Forest Service.
November 14, 2005
Another controversial logging project in the famous Giant Sequoia National Monument has been stopped for now thanks to a new court ruling on the “Ice Project.” In issuing the decision, a federal judge criticized the Bush administration for a “lack of thoroughness” and for deciding to evaluate consequences only after logging had begun. Judge Charles Breyer explained that the Forest Service had ignored extensive scientific research on the impacts of commercial logging in the region. This is a resounding echo of the concerns Judge Breyer raised over the “Saddle Project,” a separate timber sale which Sierra Club has also challenged. Both timber sales challenges are part of a larger legal strategy that seeks to stop the administration’s new “Monument Management Plan,” which allows for intensive commercial logging inside this natural wonder. Read more about the history and scope of our actions in the summaries and press releases below.
November 4, 2005
The Sierra Club's Environmental Law Program is on a roll in legal efforts to protect the Giant Sequoia National Monument. After winning a preliminary injunction stopping the logging of 2,000 acres of wildlife habitat in the Monument under the so-called "Saddle" timber sale, Club attorneys were chagrined to find that loggers had moved their equipment to yet another part of the Monument. Under the not-too-watchful eye of the Bush administration, a timber company had begun logging the so-called "Ice" timber sale inside the Monument in late October, so Club lawyers marched back into court on November 4, 2005. They slogged through a full-day hearing, following which the court issued a temporary restraining order halting logging again. As this goes to press, the Club was awaiting a written decision from the court on their request for a preliminary injunction, which would protect the Monument from all logging through the winter and early spring. Meanwhile, the Club's attorneys are putting their finishing touches on legal briefs involving a broader challenge to the administration's new "Monument Management Plan," that allows for intensive logging inside this national treasure. The Club is joined by the Attorney General of California in this broader challenge, which will be heard by the court in April 2006 after extensive legal briefing
September 9, 2005
A federal judge has shut down a 2000-acre commercial logging project in Giant Sequoia National Monument because the federal government relied on outdated science to justify a controversial the timber sale. Judge Charles Breyer issued a preliminary injunction late Friday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, blocking a timber sale known as the Saddle Project while the case is still pending. "Balancing the serious environmental harms which could occur absent preliminary relief with the serious questions that remain as to the merits," wrote Judge Breyer, "the Court finds that a preliminary injunction is warranted."
The timber industry and U.S. Forest Service had argued that the logging was urgently needed for fire prevention, but Judge Breyer noted in his decision that the agency "waited five years to execute this contract because of unfavorable timber prices."
In the six years since the Saddle Project was initially approved, the project area became part of the Giant Sequoia National Monument, and future commercial logging was outlawed. The Bush administration, already under fire for its broad attempts reopen Giant Sequoia to commercial logging, had tried to "grandfather" that project into the Monument boundaries, and the Forest Service began logging the area in late July.
Pat Gallagher, Sierra Club Director of Environmental Law, said, "This timber project directly conflicts with the purpose of National Monument status. Judge Breyer’s decision helps ensure that the Giant Sequoia Monument will be protected and can continue to inspire visitors for generations to come."
January 27, 2005
On Thursday, January 27, the Club launched a challenge in federal court to the Bush administration's plan to log large trees in the Giant Sequoia National Monument. The Sequoia Monument is an exceptionally popular national treasure, containing approximately two-thirds of all of the giant sequoia trees in the world. In stark contrast to the conservation-minded techniques used for decades by the National Park Service in the Sequoia National Park, Defendants approved a “Giant Sequoia National Monument Management Plan” that would permit extensive logging and cause the degradation of old forest habitat and irreparable harm to the Sequoia Monument’s wildlife. Beginning in 1901, when John Muir lobbied for the expansion of Sequoia National Park to encompass the entire range of the giant sequoia, the Sierra Club has advocated for the protection of giant sequoia ecosystems in their entirety. This action is the latest step in the Club's efforts to protect the world's largest trees.
Details and Documents:
Will Sequoias survive?
September 5, 2006, Editorial, San Francisco Chronicle
Judge Throws Out Forest Service Logging Plan for Giant Sequoia National Monument
August 23, 2006, by Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times
Judge tosses sequoia park logging plan
August 23, 2006, by Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle
Timber Order Plan
August 22, 2006, US District Court Northern District of California
Monument Order Plan
August 22, 2006, US District Court Northern District of California
Judge Says Plan to Log Sequoias Illegal
August 22, 2006, by Terence Chea, The Washingon Post
Logging stopped in Giant Sequoia
Judge cites agency carelessness, issues injunction
November 14, 2005, Sierra Club Press Release
Order Granting Preliminary Injunction for Ice Project
November 14, 2005, US District Court Northern District of California
Giant Sequoia Monument Safe for Now
September 12, 2005, Sierra Club Press Release
Order Granting Preliminary Injunction
September 9, 2005, US District Court Northern District of California
Conservation Groups Challenge Plan to Log Giant Sequoia Forest
January 27, 2005, Sierra Club Press Release
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief
Complaint Filed in US District Court Northern District of California
See other "Promoting Resilient Habitats" cases.